Some of us consider diet and exercise to be pretty hellacious to begin with. But apparently, being a contestant on NBC’s The Biggest Loser is even worse than you might imagine. Recently, a National Institutes Of Health study pointed out that many Biggest Loser contestants regain the weight they lost, after they leave the ranch’s intense workout routine and strict diet.
In light of that reveal, former Biggest Loser contestants are coming forward to say that not only is the program’s success rate suspect, but so are its methods. Esquire reports that “Trainers and doctors on the show allegedly offered competitors drugs to fuel their energy and weight loss.” Some contestants report being given amphetamines, and being encouraged to vomit frequently to lose weight. One season-two contestant also listed water pills and diuretics among methods used to trick the scale to make for more dramatic TV weigh-ins. Not only that, but one season, 12 contestants had to share a small apartment, with communal showers and port-a-potties since there were no working toilets.
Contestant Lezlye Donahue survived Hurricane Katrina, but she told The New York Post that going on The Biggest Loser was worse, calling it her “biggest nightmare.”
The show’s medical expert, Dr. Rob Huizenga, defended the program in an email to The New York Post, saying, “Nothing could be further from the truth. Contestants are told at the start of the show that there is zero tolerance for any weight-loss drugs.” Popular Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper has so far declined to comment. The show wrapped up its 17th season in February, as it usually premieres at the start of the year to capitalize on resolution-minded viewers.